John Frederick Rosser was born in London and came to Chelmsford to work with his uncle at the Three Cups pub in Springfield Road. He joined the army and was killed in action in August 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.
ROSSER, JOHN FREDERICK,
Private, 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment
John enlisted into the army at Chelmsford and was killed in action on 16th August 1916 near High Wood during the Battle of the Somme while serving as Private 24841 in the 1st Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment. The battalion was a regular army unit, part of the 2nd Brigade in the 1st Division, which had landed at Le Havre, France in August 1914.
On the day of John’s death ‘C' and 'D' Companies of that battalion attacked and captured part of new German trench running westwards across the Bazentin-le-Petit Road from High Wood. A post-war regimental history reported:
“Shortly after 10 p.m. on August 16th the attack was launched. ‘D’ Company, under Captain Swell, advanced on the extreme left; on the right was ‘C’ Company, under Captain J. Clark; on the right of ‘C’ were the Royal Sussex. The artillery barrage effectually kept down the enemy’s fire from the trench in front, but from both flanks rifles and machine guns wrought havoc among the assaulting troops. On the left, the first wave of the attack, in their eagerness to close with the enemy, pressed forward into the barrage, and sustained several casualties from our own artillery, Lieutenant Jacques, who was leading the foremost platoon, being killed. The second wave, led by Second-Lieutenant Noakes, captured the enemy’s trench, but their leader was mortally wounded by a machine gun firing from the left. Captain Swell, who had displayed his usual; magnificent courage in leading his company forward, was shot through the head just as the trench was taken. ‘C’ Company had also reached their objective, but not without sustaining heavy casualties, Lieutenant Nye had been killed and Second-Lieutenants B. H. Fergusson and H.R.. Phipps wounded. Second-Lieutenant Chambers, who had been missing for twenty-four hours, was discovered after the trench had been taken, He had been seriously wounded on the preceding night, and died in hospital some days later.”
The new line was held against counter attacks and was subsequently named 'Clark's Trench' after the officer from ‘C’ Company in command of the position. Captain Clark was later awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry.
John was born in Southwark, London on 24th April 1872, the son of John Rosser and Annie Rosser (nee Weight). His father had been born in 1846 in Soho, London; his mother in 1848 in Bermondsey, London. His parents had married in Southwark in 1870. John was baptised at the church of St. George the Martyr, Southwark on 19th May 1872. At the time his father was a cellar-man.
John’s siblings included William Robert Rosser (born in 1874 in Southwark), Selina Anne Rosser (born in 1877 in Southwark), Ann Rosser (born c1876 in Rotherhithe, London),
Alice Beatrice Rosser (born in 1880 in Rotherhithe), and Ada Rosser (born c1886 in Deptford, London)
The 1881 census found John living with his parents, four siblings and uncle Frederick Weight at 4 Cornbury Road in Deptford, London. John’s parents were both paper bag manufacturers; his uncle was a machine ruler.
In 1896 John’s uncle, Frederick Weight, purxhased the Three Cups Inn in Springfield Road, Springfield. The census of 1901 found John living their with his uncle, his brother and sister-in-law William Robert Rosser and Olga Matilda Rosser (nee Batzer) and their daughter and three others. John was employed as a barman, his brother William was the manager of the pub, and their uncle was a publican and a builder. Frederick rebuilt the pub in 1906, and went on to build many houses in Chelmsford, including the first council houses, and one street of his, Weight Road, bears his surname to this day.
In 1900 John’s father died in Southwark.
In 1906 John was involved in an accident which made Chelmsford’s local papers - see clipping.
In 1911 the census found 38 year-old John living with his uncle Frederick Weight at the Three Cups in Springfield Road, Springfield. The household also included his brother and sister-in-law, their two children, plus a boarder and a servant. John was a ‘traveller’. John;s brother was the manager of the pub.
John has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, near Albert, Somme, France, and on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford. He was also listed on the memorial at the Chelmsford Conservative Club where he was a member.
John was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal. His mother died in 1933, aged 84, while his uncle Frederick Weight gave up The Three Cups in 1921. The pub is now a restaurant.